As you have noticed, when reading a tatting pattern, most simply give basic instructions. This makes it fairly easy for the tatter to understand the pattern but, it also gives the tatter a lot of leeway to do the pattern in the manner in which they prefer or (in their opinion) looks better. One of the areas where a lot of leeway is left concerns the join. Usually a pattern will simply say to join ring/chain to a given picot and that’s it. There are tatters who go through their entire tatting life with using only one type of join. And, I’ve heard some tatters say that, when needle tatting, all you need to do is to insert the needle into the picot and continue to tat. This simply is not true. Yes, it can be done this way but, you’ll find that the picot becomes a twisted join and just doesn’t look very good. So, how do you determine what type of join to use?
Today, I’m going to discuss just one type of join but two ways in which you can use it. Commonly known as the shuttle join, the most basic of joins (and most frequently used) can be completed by either drawing the yarn, ‘up’ or ‘down’, through the picot. The only thing the tatter needs to determine is which one is best to use. Why would one be more preferable over another? The most frequent answer would be whether you are going to turn your work or not. If not turning your work, you’ll probably want to do a bottom-up join (pulling your thread from the bottom of your picot up through the center and above the picot so that you can draw your shuttle through the center of your ball thread). If, however, you want to turn your work after the join, you might find it more preferable to do a top-down join (pulling your ball thread from the top side of your work down through the center of the picot and out through the bottom) so that you may draw your shuttle through the loop just formed from your ball thread.
Personally, I use these same types of joins whether I use a shuttle or a needle. To me, it just looks better. And, remember my moto…there’s no right nor wrong way to do it as long as you’re happy with the results and it looks like the finished product is supposed to finish. A little thing about a join can be and is a personal matter in most cases. So, tops-down or bottoms-up…happy tatting!